Sunday, 1 May 2016

Ted goes wild ...

… well you would you wouldn't you if you spent most of your year surrounded by your siblings living underground in ancient and damp UK woodlands. Come spring naturally you’d burst into flower, cloak yourself in spring green finery, and enhance your natural odour to attract attention, who could possibly blame you.  

Known by your formal name of Ramson, you are part of the handsome Darcy family, and brother to the "Mr Darcy" in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”. The “4th brother” … walking on the wild side ... or so obscure manuscripts would have us believe.

You are of course more commonly known as “wild garlic” and are a real seasonal favourite across the UK. Your other posh name is Allium Ursinum, and in addition to your brothers, you also have distant cousins called garlic, bears garlic (cos they dig it up and rub it all over themselves to attract other Bears for err ah you know what) … and chives. You do, however, prefer hanging out in close proximity to your real love  ... Bluebells, especially when you’re both at your show off best above ground around now every year - especially with the dandelion wild hair. Unlike Bluebells though you are approached by foragers with serious intent … as you are a delicious ingredient that adds a certain seasonal “je ne sais quoi” to each dish you inhabit.

Seems you've been appreciated for a very long time with the earliest signs of animal consumption going back to 10,000 BC and us bi-peds waking up to your delights after eating the meat of animals that had been consuming your large green and plentiful leaves. Today I can buy you in any of the good UK markets in your short season, and thus avoid the need to go out into the potentially smelly countryside in my new Wellington's

I can appreciate you raw – you’ll be pungent and fiery, but cooked you’re a whole different experience. Wilted in olive oil, you are an instant garlicky alternative to spinach. Served with Jersey Royals (baby potatoes from oddly … Jersey) and asparagus with roast chicken, spring lamb, or even trout, and you have a real seasonal treat.

Worried that you won’t be able to tell a ramson from the lookalike non family member Lilly of the Valley (which you should not eat) … easy just grab a bit of the beautiful plumage, crush it and smell … you’ll know …

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Friday, 29 April 2016

Ahoy there.

I wonder what Sir Francis Drake would have made of this view.  A rather interesting perspective from on board the replica of his ship the Golden Hind.  This ship serves as a museum and entertainment venue, with regular jazz and folk evenings.  And for the kids sleepovers can be arranged.  How exciting if you want to play pirates.

Thursday, 28 April 2016


A passing moment on the street.  He was promoting a nearby restaurant, she was passing by.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Shoe Trees

There are lots of urban myths about why shoes are tossed in tress or over power lines including, drug dealers nearby or lost virginity, however it is probably more a copycat action or in this case urban art.

Monday, 25 April 2016

The Marathon

London's marathon is one of the elite races in the world with nearly 250,000 applicants this year and approximately 40,000 running on the day.  This early part of the race shows the some the elite men and women passing the 20 mile mark.  (At this point both the winners of this group had crossed the finish line).

It is alway fun to see the biggest group of ordinary runners who raise thousands for charity and achieving personal goals.  It was so cold and windy I couldn't last the distance.  I have even greater admiration for those that ran yesterday, they didn't drop out.  Well done all of you!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Ted rakes it in

.. and makes good progress in finding a little gem hidden in plain view in a very old part of town and my personal favourite of course Borough Market, which has recently celebrated 1000 years (yep that’s not a typo) of trading.  Many Londoners and non-Londoners alike can find a link back somewhere in their family tree to some ancestor (near or far) who sold produce here – apple sellers seem to have been especially popular.  So what have you found Ted … well I don’t think it was ever lost actually but I recently stumbled across The Rake pub. Owned by the two chaps who operate the Utobeer stall in the market, the aim of the Rake is to only stock beers that are brewed in their country of origin and never have anything that is brewed under license – so naturally that rules out the ubiquitous big global brands of bubbly nonsense. 

Fittingly, the pub mantra proudly displayed above the bar on a bright yellow sign is “no crap on tap”. Obviously it’s a mecca for beer lovers and with 7 keg pumps and 3 casks ales of draught beer on tap changing daily there’s never any chance of getting bored with the selection.

If that’s not enough there are regular brewery takeovers, festivals, and usually over 100 bottles in the fridge. The pub itself is tiny, but there never seems to be a space problem, maybe because it borders on the covered Jubilee market within Borough Market which provides one of the biggest all weather extensions to accommodate that peculiarly British habit of standing outside the pub drinking in all seasons.

Inside the d├ęcor is unique to say the least. The walls are decorated with messages and scribblings from visiting brewers and only brewers and beer critics (like the inestimable Melissa Cole SomALEier) may actually write on the walls. 

Throw in a few wobbly tables and stools and well used patio furniture to complete the picture. The staff are clearly lovers of their products and very knowledgeable about what’s on offer. Fantastically, there’s absolutely no product snobbery going on here. Want to try a sample or two or three or four even to decide what you might like is not only not a problem but positively encouraged, because it’s about what you might enjoy (pay attention for a customer service lesson here big outfits!!). Go on a weekend and you might even be lucky enough to meet the lovely Alex and her taste buds.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Happy Birthday Ma'am

Love her or hate her, how many other women do you know are working on their 90th birthday?  Today is her real birthday (not the official one which is June), but she works on both of them.  I'd rather be having one too many gins on my 90th birthday, but she will be doing a "walk about" in Windsor.  Cheers Ma'am.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Ted has a good cry …

 .. for the unnoticed and unspoken champions in the background who very rarely get any star billing unless they are at the height of a trend like the Catalan Chalcot that’s here today and gone tomorrow (in the time honoured tradition of all true delicacies) or perhaps a long established favourite like the French Roscoff that has its own museum, an annual two-day festival and regional naming protection under EU law.

I bring you of course the humble onion which has been our constant companion down through history. They are relatively small in vegetable terms and as their tissues leave practically no trace it’s been basically impossible for onion archaeologists (Alliumeonists) to agree on when and where they might first have originated. There is strong evidence of them being cultivated as far back as 3500 BC in Egypt. In fact, onions were considered to be an object of worship as they symbolised eternity in their circle-within-a-circle structure anatomy. Naturally they were included in large quantities in the Pharaohs afterlife pyramid stocking essentials.

Nowadays we generally content ourselves with the many variants on the onion theme of the yellow, red and white, which, because they store so well if kept away from moisture are available all year round. They have two seasons, summer and spring, and autumn and winter, but as they all look the same your average non-chef non-onion obsessed member of the public is unlikely to notice the difference I reckon. 

However, everyone pretty much agrees that the onion (and its cousin garlic) is the bedrock of cooking and that without them dishes just taste insipid and lacking in texture and flavour. We seem to be a bit precious about our onions though as despite the monumental annual global production of more than 75 million metric tons only 8% of the onions produced are traded globally. Libya doesn’t export any and annually consumes a whopping 66lbs (30kg) per person against a global average consumption of 13lbs (6kg).

Onions have many fantastic properties to go along with their culinary indispensability. They have antiseptic qualities and a range of goodies to help with a huge range of aliments. They also have a magnificence defence mechanism (not that its saved many of them mind you) of releasing their sulphur into the air when cut, this reacts with the moisture in our eyes and forms a very mild version of sulphuric acid which then sends our teardrop production into overdrive and makes us “cry”.  The solution is naturally to eat your onion whole and raw, and its apparently the secret to a long and healthy life … luckily parsley is a readily available cure to onion breath that’s required for social acceptability for those Zimmer frame trips to the shops … 

Saturday, 16 April 2016

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